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UBS hit the reset button about 9 months ago both here in the US and overseas. New leadership, new initiatives, and specific to wealth management, a renewed push into recruiting big teams.

All of that now has a backdrop that has them announcing an upside surprise in earnings. It seems that the new leadership transition and diving back in to recruiting top talent has paid off.

As markets tumbled and much of the world headed into lockdown, profit at the world’s largest asset manager rose by roughly a third to about $1.5 billion, well ahead of analysts’ estimates and the highest since the second quarter of 2018. Business was strong across the board, and capital and leverage ratios are in line with targets even after accounting for an increase in credit risk, the bank said.

At the same time, UBS and its crosstown rival, Credit Suisse Group AG, said they’d withhold part of their 2019 dividends until the second half, acknowledging that the real test for the financial system won’t come until later. The firms, acting at the request of their supervisor Finma, are among the last European lenders to delay payouts following regulatory relief.

“Our financial strength well above regulatory requirements and prudent risk management allow us to deliver on our current capital returns policy,” Chairman Axel Weber said in a statement. “Nevertheless, at Finma’s request, we have adjusted the 2019 dividend payout proposal given the high and unprecedented uncertainty.”

The adjustment to dividend payouts isn’t surprising given the global coronavirus pa remix and ensuing economic realities. Still, UBS looks, sounds, and feels like it is on the right track.

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